Jane Hitchins, one of the crew members rescued from a Western Australia racing yacht 400 miles off the coast of California, has described the rogue wave that rose out of the Pacific Ocean to crush the 68-foot vessel and leave members of its 18-person crew injured, terrified, and probably less cavalier about the might of the open ocean.
The 50-year-old Hitchins, who suffered broken ribs, a burst lung, a ruptured spleen, and a broken back after a rogue wave hit one of the 10 UK-registered yachts competing in the Clipper Round The World Race, related the aquatic event to the Telegraph with all the awe-inspiring natural detail we've come to expect from a good sea-faring yarn. "I saw the most enormous wave," Hitchins, coincidentally the ship's doctor, "I can only describe it as like a big tongue of water." She continued,
It was quite narrow but very very tall ... it was so big it tipped the boat onto its nose and then the wave broke all over the boat. Basically I had a big metal bar behind my back and a big metal cage across my front; so yes I was pinned by the water, which was very scary. I remember thinking at the time I've broken my back, which as it turned out I had. I was underwater and I remember screaming, so I must at least have been breathing out ... and as the wave retracted I was sucked out from the space I was squashed in and was rolled down towards the back of the boat. I don't know what I hit where, I was grasping onto whatever I could hold. I had two lifelines on ... and they held me completely so I didn't go over the back of the boat. I thought I was drowning ... that did go on for an awful long time, I didn't think I was going to come up.
For anyone who's read the all-penis Pacific Ocean odyssey Kon Tiki, you're already pretty familiar with how scary the open ocean is — extremely. In fact, I can't really think of a more terrible prospect than being attacked by a shark or other large sea creature, being left behind by a forgetful snorkel instructor, or simply being swallowed by the ocean's giant tongue. What I'm saying is, the sooner we use up all of our resources and are forced to flee to a distant planet that has no water except the carbonated kind, the better for everyone.
Ms. Hitchins suffered the most serious of injuries of the crew and thankfully she'll have a brief opportunity to rest up before her ship is scheduled to set sail again in July for Southampton, which, for anyone hoping for a good shiver, is a journey that would take Hitchins and her crew across the Atlantic just in time for Hurricane season.